Greyhound Discriminates Against The Autistic
I've ridden Greyhound now twice, from Illinois to my Lyme doctor in Columbia, Missouri. I made an adventure of it the first time, despite the puke, the high guy being put off mid route, the prisoners, and having to sit in the aisle for two hours with a softly crying cancer patient; they'd oversold, neither of us had seats, and he was in pain. My trip out this time was flawless, but I've got time to write this because I'm stranded in St. Louis, and it's one of those days where I'm really tired of the discrimination that gets directed at the autistic. We boarded in Columbia, me and a dozen prisoners who'd just been paroled. They and the corrections officers were milling around, everybody smoking and waiting. They have a prison uniform - an odd sort of tan pants, very sturdy, and white t-shirts. This would be my fourth Greyhound ride and every single time a good quarter of the passengers have been of this type. I've taken to chatting them up - every other one seems to need to phone home to let them know they're coming and I don't mind sharing my unlimited plan. This trip I met Antonio, a young black man who's home is St. Louis. We talked a bit before hand, him ready to get home and get on with the business of finding a job, me just ready to be home. I immersed myself in a good book and scarcely noticed the three hour run. As we were pulling up the driver announced my next bus and I could swear I heard a 1:20 departure time. I went inside and made my way to the end of the ten bay concourse where the cullinary delight of the Arch City Deli awaited. It's good for most - a combined KFC/Pizza Hut, but that doesn't fly for me since I have the gluten intolerance common to autistic adults. Luckily there are very good chef's salads available as well. Antonio found me and shyly asked if he could use my phone to call his mother. I agreed and he went back and forth between my seat and the deli area, making a couple of calls while collecting something to eat of his own. 1:10 came around and I joined the line for gate 8 - the place the inbound driver had announced as our departure point. I got to the very front of the line, handed my bag to the porter, and he said "This one goes to Effingham. Your bus is already gone." My bus had departed at 1:00 - my bad for not double checking the ticket, but what happened next is a grevious display of poor character on the part of the Greyhound employees here. I knew there was an Amtrak stop in Effingham - I'd take a different route but end up at home at the same time. I scooted down the concourse to see if I could get my ticket changed in time. Bea at the counter had someone else and wasn't even willing to talk to me until she'd finished processing that passenger. Keep in mind there were fewer than ten people behind me, so that bus was about to go. I was on the phone with Spedwybabs, who confirmed that the Illini did indeed stop in Effingham on its evening run north to Chicago. Bea finally had a moment for me and said "Just go and get on." I raced down the concourse, presented my ticket to the driver, and she told me I had to have the actual destination on my ticket. One more time I go running back down the concourse in order to get the change made. Bea scribbled Effingham on the ticket and I went running back down the concourse. The bus had already boarded, so I tapped on the door, and handed the driver my ticket. Nope, not sufficient - "Someone is going to need to initial this." Back down the concourse I go, and this time Bea had five people in line. I raised my voice a bit to attrack her attention, asking who could initial my ticket. "You do NOT need to be so rude. Someone will meet you at the gate." Starting to get the sense that this is some sort of game? I was, and the offensive antics continued. I ran down the concourse again and the driver was waiting, this time with a fellow named Kenny in a yellow vest. Kenny initialed the ticket, and then the driver spent two minutes basically yelling at me. Then she stopped and looked intently at my face. Let's keep in mind I'm an autistic adult - just a mild case of Asperger's, but my ability to make eye contact is sketchy when I'm calm, and when I've been running and someone has just spent time yelling at me? I asked in what I thought was a polite fashion if we were going to go now. She said "You're not going on my bus." And that was that. So, to review, chronically ill adult returning from specialist visit, honest mistake on bus boarding largely due to helping someone else, not at all neurotypical which means I can be taken for being drugged or mentally ill. I've been jerked around by the gate agent in cooperation with the driver, yelled at by the driver while the station manager looked on, and then stuck here, with the apparent cause being the fact that my reaction to being harrassed and yelled at is visibly different from neurotypical folk. That is straight up discrimination by Greyhound. I'm used to discrimination as an autistic adult - I'm different, I know I'm different, and I have the career, employment, and relationships dictated by this. I've mostly isolated myself from this sort of conduct, but this is a situation I simply could not avoid. Yes, I called their customer service line. The best they could offer was the 6:20 bus going to same direction, but the same gamey gate agent is still sitting out there, waiting to mishandling my transportation needs again. How do I get home?
Greyhound Bus Service
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